Heifer International spends $3.5 million for tractor acquisition in Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda

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From Adanna Nnamani, Abuja

In an effort to boost food sufficiency, Heifer International, an international development organisation, has announced an additional $3.5 million to fund its tractor financing initiative in Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda.

The firm said the move was consistent with its primary goal of catalysing agricultural and economic development in Africa.

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The money aims to finance an additional 75 tractors across Africa to provide affordable access to tractor services to 872,250 smallholder farmers at an affordable rate so as to boost farm productivity, employment, food security and farmer livelihoods over the next 10 years.

The investment comes two weeks after the launch of Hello Tractor’s innovative Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) Tractor financing for agri-entrepreneurs in Nigeria with $1 million USD from Heifer International, taking the organisation’s investment in catalytic funding for tractor financing in Africa to $4.5 million.

Briefing journalists at a media parley on Wednesday in Abuja, President and CEO of Heifer International, Mr Pierre Ferrari, said he was impressed at the enthusiasm shown by smallholder farmers, booking agents, tractor operators and tractor owners to transform the agricultural landscape in Nigeria and other African countries.

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According to him, “Africa has the lowest number of tractors per farmer globally and as a result, yields per hectare are low. Smallholder farmers do not have access to tractors and that’s something we aim to change. We encourage our partners and the donor community to join Heifer International on this journey.”

“Increased mechanisation and tractors, in particular, are vital as smallholder farmers scale up their production and build profitable and sustainable farming businesses,”

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“We are particularly impressed by Hello Tractor’s Pay-As-You-Go tractor financing model – an innovation that emerged from the AYuTe Africa Challenge, an agritech competition for young entrepreneurs run by Heifer International.”

Also speaking, Adesuwa Ifedi, Senior Vice President, Africa Programs said food dependence has become a state of emergency in Nigeria and Africa at large, especially with the war in Ukraine and the dwindling naira to dollar rate.

“With the war that’s going on in Ukraine currently, we’re now seeing that there is a strong sense of emergency around food dependence. It has been an interesting adventure for us in Africa and I use the word adventure to try to feed ourselves.

“We can no longer with the exchange rate in countries like Nigeria, continue to import food. Furthermore, with the war in Ukraine, the supply of food for what we get for most of the war is no longer there. So as we began to ponder on these issues in heifer, we understand that 45 years in the continent working with farmers, the role of agriculture has to really change and integration of technology is critical, once more so is that we have a teeming youth population of young people who need to see themselves in agriculture going into the future. ” she stated

In addition, Board Chair of Heifer International, Randi Hedin assured of the organisation’s commitment to achieving food sustainability and ending poverty in Africa.

“I want to add that the board of directors today of Heifer International is committed more than ever, to working here on the continent to fulfil the mission of Heifer International, of ending poverty and hunger, while caring for the Earth. It takes everyone together to be able to help smallholder farmers earn a living income, which is really what our work at the very heart is what it’s all about”, she said.